• A couple hold hands at a Belfast rally for same-sex marriage on June 13, 2015. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
An election in Northern Ireland has increased the number of politicians in favour of legalising same-sex marriage.
Drew Sheldrick

9 May 2016 - 10:01 AM  UPDATED 9 May 2016 - 10:01 AM

Last week's Northern Ireland election has delivered a clear majority of the newly-elected Assembly members in favour of marriage equality, according to Amnesty International.

Figures show at least 58 of the 108 elected Assembly members (MLAs) support the introduction of same-sex marriage based on approaches Amnesty made to candidates before the election, as well as previous voting records and public statements.

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“Based on our figures, even a conservative reading of voting intentions shows that there are now at least 58 MLAs in favour of legislating for equal marriage, with 49 or fewer opposed," said Amnesty International Northern Ireland programme director Patrick Corrigan. 

"This is a marked shift in favour of equality and brings the make-up of the Assembly significantly closer to public opinion on this issue."

Four parties – Sinn Féin, SDLP, Alliance and the Greens – committed themselves to introducing same-sex marriage legislation during the election campaign.

In November 2015, the Northern Ireland Assembly voted narrowly in favour of legalising same-sex marriage, but the Democratic Unionist Party vetoed any change in the law by using a mechanism called a “petition of concern” to argue that a change to marriage laws did not have sufficient cross-community support.

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Last July an Ipsos MORI survey found 68 per cent of people in Northern Ireland support marriage equality.

Same-sex marriage is legal in every other part of the UK and same-sex couples have been able to marry in the Republic of Ireland following a 2015 referendum on the issue.

A successful attempt to legalise same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland would make Australia the last developed English-speaking country to deny same-sex couples the right to marry.